Due to the Covid-19 lockdown Oxford’s 2020 Trinity term was a social wasteland. Yet Ertegun scholars found creative ways to connect with one another despite the social distancing. One of the term’s most successful social events was an online pub quiz.
On Friday evening, June 12, fourteen scholars gathered on Zoom for the “Ertegun Battle of Wits,” the programme’s first ever (as far as I know) online pub quiz. Participants strove to best their colleagues’ knowledge in the areas of ancient history, film, and music. There was more at stake than personal glory. Gift card prizes were promised not only for top individual scores, but also for the “best” screen name and the highest cumulative office score. For some it was their first experience of a pub quiz. Others were hardened veterans, with one even simultaneously participating in another online pub quiz.
As creator and host, Quizmaster Rose Campion masterfully drew the physically distant scholars out of their lockdown blues and into a vivacious meeting of the minds. The amount of preparation she had put into the quiz became obvious as she provided juicy anecdotes in between questions (though an extra zero, i.e. a ten millennium discrepancy, seemed to have wiggled its way into the purported date that humans arrived in New Zealand). Campion’s use of the online platform Kahoot kept participants on their toes by rewarding not only correct answers but also speed. She even rose to the challenge of reintegrating two participants and remembering their previous scores when their mobile devices accidentally exited the quiz, effectively cancelling their earlier gains.
Competition was fierce, with two millennials, all around badass Emma Gattey and Guardian junkie Ursula Westwood, going head to head for the number one spot. Two generation Z scholars were hot on their heels, at times overtaking them during the early game. Digital humanities whizz kid Lena Zlock eventually landed third place while fresh-faced boy wonder Connor Beattie (of multiple simultaneous pub-quizzes fame) took honorable mention for the high score in his field of expertise, the ancient history round.
In the end, Gattey edged out Westwood to take first place, despite the handicap of participating at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning from her native New Zealand.
Other honourable mentions went to resident greyhead and pub quiz virgin Andrew Hochstedler for the film round, and to “Merton’s-terrible-internet-can’t-stop-me” Thu Truong for the best knowledge of music. The highest cumulative office scores went to the alumni room on the first floor (Raphaël Millière, Jordan Maly-Preuss, and the aforementioned Westwood) and to the second floor northeast office (Rachael Hodge, Julius Kochan, and Linqing Zhu). The prestigious “best” name prize was awarded to Hannah Lily-Lanyon for her “Wit of Ertegun” screen name, a nod to the Ertegun Programme’s beloved status among the Scholars.